Kind. Giving. Being the nice guy never felt so good.
Evaristo Casimiro ’19 enjoys helping people. He grew up inspired by the actions of his parents, who, through hard work and a passion for helping those they cared about, set an example that doing things for others comes back in the form of joy and love for life.
When Evaristo came to Graceland from Angola, Africa, to major in business administration and economics and to play football, he brought that inspiration with him and has become a shining example of how to live it.
During his first year at Graceland, Evaristo began to notice there were things he didn’t know — things that could make his experience as a college student easier. He learned there are old copies of tests in the library for students to study ahead of an exam; and that professors make a copy of their text books available to check out.
Evaristo also quickly learned that Graceland is really about community and people from all backgrounds and experiences coming together. So, when he got a flyer in his mailbox last year with an invitation to apply to be a peer mentor, he was excited to volunteer.
He thought he could help other students learn the things that had made a difference for him and use his experience to give back to his new community.
“Peer mentoring just sounded like something I wanted to do,” said Evaristo. “I actually didn’t know at first that it was a paid position. I was going to do it for free. And then I was like, yeah, this is awesome: interacting with students and telling them about Graceland and showing them how to succeed … sharing with them my story about how I make it every day — even with football and everything … how I try to get involved and stay involved … how I try to take care of my academics …”
He was in.
“Evaristo is a natural peer mentor,” said Nicole Briell, Director of Student Success. “It is simply in his nature to notice and reach out to people and want to make a difference for them. It has been such a pleasure to have him as an official peer mentor for Graceland, and he has definitely made a difference for the students he is paired with, and for the program and university as a whole.”
“Being such a close community actually helped me to become a better version of myself because I had more opportunities to actually make an impact.”
Evaristo may be employed as a peer mentor, but, for him, the official title and paycheck are just perks. Living in such a way that his own success benefits others and helps them achieve success is a choice he makes every day.
“Evaristo is a great example of what Graceland is all about,” shared Dean of Graceland’s C.H. Sandage School of Business and Associate Professor of Business Administration Jeff McElroy, MBA. “He took the initiative — without being asked by me — to reach out and help a student who was confused and falling behind in class. It definitely made a difference to that student and had an impact on me as well.”
Evaristo plans to take advantage of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for a year after graduation, a period in which international students are allowed to remain in the U.S. to gain work experience that compliments their field of study. He will use this time to pursue a career in sales and marketing, an area commonly perceived to be competitive and cutthroat — but he doesn’t see this as at odds with his joy for helping people.
“Competition is just part of life. I’m in athletics; I want to succeed,” he said. “But at the same time, I feel like my success is what’s gonna help other people. My mindset is that my success isn’t only for me, and other people should be able to benefit from it as well.”
With a primary focus on student success, Graceland values learning, wholeness and community, and encourages the development of these values for the enrichment of lives
and the betterment of the world. Evaristo exemplifies these values and is enriching the lives of each student
he helps. He is making a difference.
GRACELAND PEER MENTORS serve as role models to new students. The peer mentor program aims to support new students as they develop a meaningful connection with the Graceland community and establish a sense of belonging. The program is a collaboration between the Director of Student Success and the First-Year Seminar coordinator, and it is the first step in creating a cohesive orientation, transition and retention program at Graceland.